I've considered the idea of blogging on and off for some time now, but obviously didn't decide to do it until today. Why blog? Why today?
It might have something to do with an email I received and to which I responded today. A woman whom I admire incredibly much has a speaking assignment coming up this weekend. She wanted to include some examples of, "How small acts can make a big difference," and asked the ladies in the ward to send her any stories that came to them.
I wrote one example for her. Before I'd finished writing about that one, another came to my mind. As I wrote about that one, another popped up, then another. You can tell where this is going. If we sit and quiet our minds, then let ourselves ponder the things we've experienced, we can recall all kinds of small acts and big differences we've witnessed.
Here are some of the things I listed:
1. A certain leader bore her testimony to the sisters in Relief Society. (A women's class/organization that meets during the 3rd hour of our Sunday church meetings. The worldwide group is one of the largest and oldest women's organizations in the world.) She told us that she was thinking about the sisters in our ward (local church) one night, trying to remember each of our names and listing them in her head. She was somewhat disturbed because there was one sister she knew she was leaving out, but could not remember her name. She prayed for each and every one of these sisters. The next morning, the missing sister came to her mind.
It may sound like a small thing, but it touched my heart deeply to know that someone cared about each and every one us, individually and as a body. It reminded me that our Savior knows us as individuals, as well, and has people here who act in His name, in our service, and on our behalf. When ever I hear the Irving Berlin song that goes, "When I'm worried and I can't sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings," I think of this sister. I often think of her example when I can't sleep, as well, and I try to use those opportunities to pray for individuals who may need an extra something at that time.
COUNT MY BLESSINGS (Instead of Sheep)
(Irving Berlin) from the 1954 movie "White Christmas"
« © '57 Irving Berlin Music, ASCAP »
When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings.
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds.
If you're worried and you can't sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you'll fall asleep counting your blessings.
[ ... ]So if you're worried and you can't sleep...
2. When we lived in GA and I was having a very painful and scary miscarriage, Michael called our Bishop's wife to ask for advice. Within a few minutes, her car pulled up in front of our house and I heard her footsteps running up our front entry steps. She held my hand, rubbed my head, and talked me through the pain (I didn't know it, but I was having labor contractions) until the ambulance came to help me down those front steps. (I couldn't make my legs move.) While Michael rushed me to the hospital, she stayed with our kids and kept everything calm at home. At one of the most difficult times of my life, I felt completely surrounded with our Savior's love through the service this sister provided.
3. When I was pregnant with my daughter and we were relatively new to CA, a kid hit me with a bike and broke my ankle. My husband worked out of town a lot and was out of town when this happened. Our Bishop's wife came to the soccer field where it happened, took my kids to her home so her daughter could look after them, stayed at the hospital with me, called a Priesthood holder to give me a blessing, and made sure we all got home safely that night. The relief, support, and assurance she provided were priceless and indescribable.
During my recovery, I was supposed to stay completely off my feet for a period of time, but I kept trying to handle things in the house by myself. A sister in the ward volunteered to make sure my oldest son got to Scouts each week. She lived in our neighborhood and it wasn't much out of her way to take him, but it was hugely important as it showed my son that his Church activities are important and it kept him current with what his class was doing. One night when she was dropping him off after Scouts, she snuck into my kitchen and filled a section of my refrigerator with Lunchables. What a relief she provided me! My youngest son was with me all day while the other two went to school during that time, so her lunches made it possible for the little one to have meals that I would not have to get up to prepare for him.
4. We lived in CA - far away from family - when my daughter was less than a month old and Michael lost his job very unexpectedly and suddenly. We were trying to make it through those months on our own (with lots of prayer), but things were starting to get worrisome. We got a call one afternoon that said, "You need to go get some things that are outside in your driveway." When we got out there, we were shocked, touched, and humbled to find all kinds of food and supplies that had obviously been bought at Costco and were tailored to our family's needs. (Diapers, pancake mix, meats, cereal, oatmeal, bread, on and on.) We never found out who did this amazing thing for us or how many families had participated in some small way.
I can't even describe the feelings our family experienced as we lived off those supplies for a good chunk of the time until Michael got his new job. Our boys were all young, but they were old enough to remember the family home evening lesson we'd had on tithing the very week before Michael lost his job. They were sure we were being extra-blessed because we had been obedient to Heavenly Father's instructions. They felt like everyone in our ward had participated and was looking out for our well-being. Since that time, we have also tried to pay that kindness forward, providing support and service to others whose needs we see as often as we possibly can.
5. When a family in another ward lost their young son last year, several other ladies and I went to the family's house during his funeral so that we could give the house a thorough cleaning. I hope that we made it so the family had one less thing to be worried about during such a difficult time in their lives.
6. Before the funeral of an infant who died, our family spent several hours cleaning and preparing the church building. We've cleaned the building as a family before and since, but this time we talked to the boys particularly about the things the family might be feeling - both uplifting and heartbreaking - and the fact that we were trying to make the building as clean as we could so that nothing would take away from their family's time to say good-bye to her.